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Best Christmas Events in Toronto: A Festive Guide 2023

Who doesn’t love Christmas in Toronto? From browsing the Hudson Bay Christmas windows to ice skating at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Now that we have moved out of the city, we love going into town even more to celebrate everything the city offers during the Christmas season.

Christmas in Toronto

christmas events in toronto deb at distillery

There are so many Christmas events in Toronto that you can spend every weekend leading up to the holidays doing something different. We’ve booked our annual Christmas show, made our shopping list, and booked our hotel to spend a night in town for some holiday fun. From historic markets to dazzling light displays, the city is brimming with festivities that cater to all ages. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the 30 best Christmas events in Toronto.

Toronto Santa Claus Parade

christmas events toronto stanta claus parade

The Toronto Santa Claus Parade is one of the most popular Christmas events in Toronto, attracting families from all around the GTA and beyond. People come into the city for this annual parade that has been going for 119 years! The Santa Claus Parade is the official start of the holiday season in Toronto, and the streets are packed with revelers. The Santa Claus parade begins at Christie Pitts at Christie & Bloor at 12:30 tomorrow, November 25, 2023.

The Santa Claus Parade website claims that hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets and millions more watch at home. We’ve watched many a Santa Claus Parade in Toronto and at home, so we believe it! The parade weaves through downtown via University to Wellington and ends at the St. Lawrence Market, where you can shop for some Christmas trees!

The Distillery Winter Village (Formerly Toronto Christmas Market)

christmas events in toronto Toronto Christmas Market at The Distillery Winter Village

I think when the Distillery first began its Toronto Christmas Market tradition, it was the first place in the city that really reminded me of the Christmas Markets in Europe. During the holiday season, the Distillery Winter Village transforms the cobblestone streets of the old Distillery district into a dazzling winter wonderland of Christmas Markets and outdoor fun.

The Toronto Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas events in Toronto and can get very crowded, so we recommend going during the week before 4 pm. Enjoy some holiday spirits like mulled wine and delicious food as you take in the festive cheer.

christmas in toronto toronto christmas market

The giant Christmas tree at  Trinity Square is adorned with thousands of lights. Live music and performances add to the lively atmosphere, making the Distillery Winter Village a Christmas Market you don’t want to miss.

There is plenty of shopping for your holiday season gifts, and with microbreweries, restaurants, and a beautiful setting, this is one of the not-to-miss Christmas Events in Toronto. The Distillery Winter Village is more than just a market; it’s a festive destination where the spirit of Christmas in Toronto comes alive, bringing people together for the holiday season.

The Village features an array of charming wooden cabins offering unique crafts, artisanal gifts, and delicious culinary delights, making it a perfect spot for holiday shopping and dining. And you can catch a show at the Soulpepper Theatre.

Distillery Winter Village details

Location: December 16, 2023 – January 7, 2024 (Closed Christmas Day) Opening hours from 10 am Ticketed entry after 4 pm

Casa Loma’s Christmas at the Castle and Holiday Lights Tour

christmas events in toronto casa loma

Before moving out of the city, Dave and I lived a hop, skip, and jump from the beloved Casa Loma. Dave used to work regularly in Casa Loma in Toronto’s film industry and often turned that beautiful castle into a holiday scene. I even took part in a holiday show at Casa Loma as a music theatre performer back in the day. But that is another story.

Toronto’s iconic Casa Loma is a gothic-style castle built in the early 20th century by Sir Henry Pellatt. This majestic castle has long been a Toronto landmark with its towering spires and elegant gardens, and during the Christmas season, they go all out. Castle Loma’s Christmas in the Castle is an enchanting place during the holiday season. With live music, carolers, and holiday-themed shows, a night at Casa Loma will fulfill your Christmas dreams.

During the Holiday Lights Tour, the castle and its grounds are illuminated with thousands of colorful lights. One of the tour’s highlights is being greeted in the Great Hall by its giant Christmas tree. Kids can visit Santa Claus and the castle workshop to create arts and crafts. Casa Loma’s holiday spirit continues with beautifully decorated rooms and halls with eight other Christmas trees besides the 40-foot-tall tree in the Great Hall. The holiday decor, garlands, and lights reflect the grandeur of the early 20th century and provide a glimpse into the castle’s past celebrations.

December 2nd, 2023 – January 6th, 20249.30 am – 5 pm (last admission at 4.30 pm)

Nathan Phillips Square Cavalcade of Lights

christmas in toronto nathan phillips square
Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Canada

When I think of Christmas in Toronto, Nathan Phillips Square will always be at the top of my mind until it opens up, the Christmas season hasn’t truly begun. Natha. Phillips Square is Toronto’s answer to the Rockefeller in New York, where the city’s official Christmas tree resides, and ice skaters enjoy the outdoor skating rink.

Throughout the holiday season, Nathan Phillips Square buzzes with many Toronto Christmas events and activities, including the famous Cavalcade of Lights, which marks the official start of the holiday season in Toronto. This year the Nathan Phillips Square Cavalcade of Lights begins on November 25, 2023 (Tonight) and runs until January 7. Plus, it is a free event! It has live musical performances and a tree-lighting ceremony kicking off the holiday events around the city.

The ice skating, the array of events, and the seasonal decorations make Nathan Phillips Square the perfect place to kick of your Christmas season in Toronto.

Location: Nathan Phillips Square Highlights: Cavalcade of Lights, ice skating, Christmas market Why Visit: Enjoy the heart of Toronto’s Christmas festivities in a vibrant urban setting.

Holiday Fair in the Square

Formerly located at Nathan Philips Square, the Holiday Fair in the Square is happening at Mel Lastman Square during the festive season. It’s fitting the Christmas events in Toronto have moved uptown. More and more people are living north of the 401.

The Holiday Fair In the Square is returning to Mel Lastman Square in North York, and every corner is filled with holiday cheer and festive surprises.

This year, the Holiday Fair is bursting with unique offerings, from artisan and food vendors presenting their one-of-a-kind creations to the spirited Polar Point Bar, set outdoors for that perfect winter touch. Treat yourself to seasonal favorites like Mulled Wine, Hot Apple Cider, and rich, creamy Hot Chocolate, perfect for those crisp winter evenings.

The whole family will love the roaming performers and a cozy fireside lounge that invites you to unwind and soak in the festive atmosphere. Plus, a visit to Santa Village is a must.

Holiday Fair in the Square details

Running from December 1 to December 23 (closed on Mondays)

The Christmas Tree at CF Toronto the Eaton Centre

christmas in toronto eaton centre christmas tree

No Christmas in Toronto would be complete without Christmas shopping at the Eaton Centre. The CF Toronto Eaton Centre at Dundas Square is Toronto’s premier shopping destination. It is the epicenter of Toronto Holiday Events with outdoor performances and holiday decorations. But nothing compares to the massive Christmas tree at the mall’s center. After taking a year off, Canada’s tallest Christmas tree has returned. There are daily light shows from November 16th – December 31, complete with music and snow!

Walking through the Eaton Centre instantly puts you in the holiday mood with Christmas decorations and Christmas light displays. Besides the Christmas tree, there is also a giant reindeer to admire. Christmas shopping at the Eaton Centre has been an enchanted Christmas tradition for the whole family. So put on your favourite ugly Christmas sweater and make your way to the mall to

Holiday Magic in Bloor-Yorkville

christmas in toronto holiday magic bloor yorkville

Speaking of Christmas Shopping, Bloor-Yorkville is the best. We used to live in Yorkville and have watched it transform throughout the years. In one of Toronto’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Yorkville does its holiday decorations right, with Christmas lights adorning the streets and transforming the area into a luminous winter paradise; Christmas in Toronto in Yorkville is Euro-chic.

Renowned for its upscale boutiques and high-end retailers, the neighborhood offers a unique holiday shopping experience enhanced by festive decorations and a cheerful holiday atmosphere. Adding to the allure, the area hosts various seasonal events and performances, making it a hub for both luxury shopping and cultural festivities. We loved taking an evening stroll during the Christmas season to enjoy the neighborhood’s holiday lights.

Location: Bloor-Yorkville Highlights: Christmas decorations, illuminated trees along Bloor Street Why Visit: A chic and elegant Christmas experience with upscale shopping.

Fairmont Royal York

Toronto’s historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel is the Grand Dame of Toronto Hotels, and anyone can go inside for a look. Connected to the PATH, it’s easy to get to. Plus, it offers an array of pop-up events and stunning decorations, making it a must-visit holiday destination. These include festive afternoon teas, where patrons can indulge in seasonal treats and teas in a lavishly decorated setting. The pop-up events often feature unique themes, showcasing the creative spirit of the holiday season.

Upon entering the Fairmont Royal York, the lobby becomes a spectacle of holiday splendor with a towering Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling lights and elegant ornaments.

In keeping with the season of giving, the Fairmont Royal York often hosts holiday markets featuring local artisans. These markets are a great opportunity for guests to find unique gifts and support local businesses, adding charm to the hotel’s Christmas offerings.

Pop Up Bars

Speaking of pop-up Christmas events, when the holiday season comes around, so do the holiday pop-up bars, where restaurants and bars transform their venues to holiday-themed bars. From themed Christmas drinks to beautifully decorated venues, these pop-up bars are perfect Christmas events in Toronto for adults. Enjoy festive cocktails surrounded by Christmas cheer with your best friends.

Popular pop-up bars happening in Toronto for 2023 include:

Miracle Toronto, located at 875 Bloor St. W, Little Sister‘s Java Jingle Holiday Bar – 102 Portland St. and 2031 Yonge St. The Thirsty Elf at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel Project Gigglewater Holiday bar

Candlelight Concerts in Toronto

One of the coolest things to do in at Christmas in Toronto is to find one of the Candlelight Concerts around the city. Candlelight concerts are in 100 cities worldwide, and during the holiday season, Toronto’s Candlelight concerts take on a festive theme with various concerts, including Charlie Brown Christmas, The Nutcracker, and more. Do something unique this holiday season and check out one of these Toronto Christmas events on their website. Toronto Candlelight Christmas events.

Location: Various venues Highlights: Themed performances by classically-trained musicians Why Visit: Enjoy the warmth of candlelit concerts, offering a serene musical retreat.

Stackt Market Holiday Hills

christmas in toronto stackt holiday market

Stackt Market in Toronto adds a distinct flavor to the city’s Christmas holiday season, inviting visitors to experience the holidays in a uniquely North America’s largest shipping container market. From November 17 – December 31, Holiday Hills creates a magical evening for the winter season with festive food and festive cocktails like  Disco Mistletoe, fire pits, s’mores kits and hot chocolate, warming huts, and a 20 foot tall Christmas tree.

Stackt Market offers a contemporary twist on traditional Christmas markets like the Distillery Winter Village, making it a must-visit destination in Toronto’s Christmas season.

Catch a Holiday Musical

Toronto has a fantastic music theater scene, and all the holiday productions are in full swing. There are

Toronto Christmas Events Outside the City

WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland

Photo courtesy of Destination Toronto

Did I ever tell you I worked at Canada’s Wonderland for four years? It may not be located in Toronto proper, but Canada’s Wonderland has upped the ante when it comes to finding things to do at Christmas in Toronto. During the festive season,

WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland is a seasonal extravaganza that transforms one of Toronto’s most popular amusement parks into a breathtaking winter paradise, highlighting the city’s Christmas events. As visitors enter this magical realm, they are surrounded by millions of shimmering lights and stunning holiday displays, setting the scene for an unforgettable festive adventure. The park offers an array of attractions, including ice skating on Snowflake Lake, live holiday shows, and interactive family activities, all under the mesmerizing glow of Christmas lights.

With its uniquely themed areas, each corner of WinterFest presents a new and enchanting experience, from the charming Christmas village to the exhilarating holiday-themed rides. Visitors can also indulge in seasonal treats and warm beverages, adding to the cozy and merry ambiance.

Location: Canada’s Wonderland Highlights: Theme park transformed with lights, skating rinks, festive activities Why Visit: A unique theme park experience with a holiday twist.

Black Creek Pioneer Village Christmas by Lamplight

Black Creek Pioneer Village is located an hour outside of Toronto and is a Christmas destination that will take you back in time to 19th-century Canadian life,

With its meticulously restored buildings, costumed interpreters, and interactive workshops, it’s a fun place for the whole family. There are plenty of Christmas activities taking place in this winter wonderland of festive fun. From December 2 to December 23, kids can visit Santa in the Village on Saturdays and Sundays. Or families can enjoy Festive Nights at the village during the Christmas season with live entertainment, holiday treats and professional storytelling.

Location: Black Creek Pioneer Village Highlights: Historical Christmas experience, lamplight tours Why Visit: Step back in time and enjoy Christmas in a 19th-century setting.

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